After a weekend of managing raging temperatures every 4 hours and more chatter in the social media sphere about sending sick children to pre-school, I thought it was time to weigh in on this debate.
Firstly, I think it is important to define how sick is too sick. It's important to recognise that we all define 'sick' in a different way. A runny nose, a viral rash, a sore throat, temperatures - where do we draw the line? In my opinion, it is always best to visit your local GP and let them decide. They will advise if the child is ok to socialise with other children or if there is a period where they need to be excluded. If you are a working parent, they can provide you with a carer's certificate to give to your workplace, if required.
Your local GP will be able to advise if your child is contagious. Image source: www.freedigitalphotos.net "Doctor Checked Children Girl's Body" by hin255
If your child is sick and you're a full-time SAHM, this one is a no brainer - keep them home with you. Being at home will give them time to rest and recuperate, they will not get this time to rest at childcare. There is no pressing need for the child to be in care and sharing their germs with other children.
Where possible, we should consider the health of others before sending a sick child to day care. Image source: www.freedigitalphoto.net "Falling Over Health Block" by Stuart Miles
In an ideal world, this would also be the case for working parents. However, before having my 2nd child, I was working part-time from home, whilst my daughter attended childcare and often felt torn when she was sick.
I knew deep down, that my priority was and always would be the health and wellbeing of my child. However, I often wondered what my boss and colleagues thought about me taking time off work to take care of my sick child. Did they think I was a slacker because I was only working 2 days a week anyway and then demanded more time off, when my child was sick?
I was very lucky that my boss was also a parent and understood the constant struggle to find a balance between work and family life.
I believe that childcare providers need to work with parents to encourage them to keep their kids home when contagious. The current system in most centres is that, even if your child is sick and remains at home in your care, you are still charged the full rate of child care. This only muddies the decision further. What incentive do parents have to keep their children home and away from other children when they are potentially losing income and are still required to pay for childcare?
We need to consider the health and wellbeing of the teachers before sending a sick child to preschool. Image source: www.freedigitalphotos.net "Woman Sneezing In The Handkerchief" by marin
As a society, I believe that we need to remain mindful of the impact our decisions have on others in our community. Sending your child to child care whilst sick may have a wider impact than you realise. What about the child that suffers from asthma and cannot breathe if they catch the simple common cold? As well as they other children, we need to consider the health and wellbeing of the teachers and caregivers.
What do you do when you have a sick child? Do you send them to childcare or keep them at home?
When I was working part time with my first son, he had a few infections one after another and it honestly felt for a period that I wasn't in work at all. It totally couldn't be helped and as he was infectious there was no way I was sending him to day care. I did feel that by the end of it, my company were probably losing their patience, but there was nothing else I could do. It is such a challenging issue.